KUALA LUMPUR - When I heard that PAWS was looking to home Fifi, a Poodle that has spent most of her life living in a cage, my thoughts went straight to my friend Declan, an ex-racing greyhound living in England.
If you haven't heard of it, greyhound racing is big business. Dogs chase a (mechanical) rabbit around a track, and people bet on the winners.
The industry has a dark side. The "lucky" dogs that have a career spend most of their days in crates, with little human contact. They race until they are three-and-a-half to four years old, and then they are replaced by younger dogs. A lucky few are adopted; most are destroyed - and not always in a humane manner.
Declan, or Deccy to his friends, was one of the lucky ones. He was born in Ireland in May 2007, raced in England and retired in February 2011. He was adopted five months later through a charity called the Retired Greyhound Trust by Jane (Mum) and her partner Jill (Other Mum) and now lives with them and KC the cat in Bradford, an industrial town in northern England.
Like Fifi, Deccy wasn't used to being with people but, with love and care, he grew into a loving pet.
Curious to learn more, I asked Jane to share her insight.
Why did you adopt an ex-racer?
Put simply, it was a no brainer! I adopted my first greyhound, Flynn, in 2002 and had him for nine years before he died in May 2011 aged 12½ . Greyhounds are very addictive, so really we wouldn't have wanted anything else. Given that over 12,000 retire each year, there is no shortage of dogs looking for their "forever sofa".
What was Deccy like when you first took him home?
We were incredibly lucky with Dec as he was quite a confident dog and not really afraid of much. Nevertheless, he paced the house and refused to eat, drink or sit down for a full 24 hours.
You have to remember retired racers have spent their whole life in kennels. They have never been in a house, never seen another breed of dog, so it's a huge culture shock for them.
Really, you just have to let them go with the flow, and try and remain laid-back! Dec ran up the stairs within half an hour; it took Flynn six months!
Greyhounds are naturally very clean dogs and pretty easy to house-train. The easiest way to think of it is like this: "My dog may be four years old, but for all he knows about living in a house and being a pet, he might as well be four months."